Two Awesome Free WiFi Scanners For The Mac

Matt Smith 18-01-2011

<firstimage=”//”>wifi scanners macAnyone who owns a Mac is probably familiar with the ease with which AirPort operates. It seems to do a good job of automatically finding and connecting to the best available network in a given area, and switching between networks is simple.


Even so, AirPort doesn’t  give you a lot of extra information about the networks located near your Mac. The signal strength is represented by a simple icon, and information like signal-noise ratio, security and connection type isn’t available at a glance. If you’re looking for this information – and more – you’ll want to consider a free Mac wifi scanner.

WiFi Scanner

wifi scanners mac

This creatively named software does exactly what it advertises. When opened, it automatically scans nearby airwaves for WiFi signals. You’ll find that WiFi Scanner provides a lot more information than normally available through your Apple computer. The categories of information that you’ll be provided with include channel, MAC address How To Setup Wake On LAN Using The MAC Address Read More , wireless standard, received signal strength, noise, signal-noise ratio, and the encryption method being used to provide security 7 Simple Tips to Secure Your Router and Wi-Fi Network in Minutes Is someone sniffing and eavesdropping on your Wi-Fi traffic, stealing your passwords and credit card numbers? Would you even know if somebody was? Probably not, so secure your wireless network with these 7 simple steps. Read More . WiFi Scanner will also let you know if a detected network is an ad-hoc (IBSS) network.

For the most part, WiFi Scanner is used simply to find networks and provide information about their signal strength, security and connectivity. However, you can use the program to easily create a ad-hoc network by clicking the Create IBSS button. You’ll then be prompted to enter a name and password. You can, as you might have guessed, join any network listed by using the Join button. WiFi Scanner can utilize saved password information from your Mac Keychain – provided you feel comfortable giving the software permission.



free wifi scanner

As this program’s devilish icon indicates, KisMAC isn’t just a WiFi scanner. This program is a heavy-duty WiFi security and cracking How People Are Hacking Wireless Networks & How To Protect Yourself Read More application that can be used for a wide variety of tasks. However, it also works just fine as a WiFi scanner.

The information provided by KisMAC includes channel, SSID, MAC address, encryption method, current, average and maximum signal strength and the date the wireless network was last encountered. It also includes information fields called Packets and Data, but these are not directly related to using KisMAC as a WiFi scanner. You can also view the signal strength of nearby networks on a graph by clicking the second icon from the left at the bottom of KisMAC. Just be warned that this graph can be rather busy in an area saturated with WiFi.

wifi scanners mac


One of the more interesting features of KisMAC is the ability to display networks on a map if you have a GPS. This can take some time, and it requires a lot of advanced setup and, of course, a GPS device that is capable of connecting to your Mac. Additional information about this feature can be found in the Kismet Wireless FAQ.


Although KisMAC has been called the ultimate WiFi scanner, I believe that title is probably related to the many things it can do which are not really WiFi scanning at all, such as cracking WiFi encryption and finding hidden networks. KisMAC is amazing software that can do a lot of things, some of which are of questionable legality, but it isn’t for users who want something quick and simple.

WiFI Scanner, on the other hand, is easy to use. All you have to do is open the program. You don’t even have to press any buttons  – the program automatically begins scanning at the default setting of five second intervals. The information that it provides is quite robust, as well, so you can use WiFi Scanner to find the best network in an area just as easily as KisMAC.

The programs both detected the same networks and reported the same signal strengths, which is really as it should be, as both programs are shifting information from the same wireless card. I suggest you try both and see which works best for you.


Related topics: Computer Networks, Wi-Fi.

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  1. Jonphotog
    January 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Very interesting!

  2. Mike
    January 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Should have been "Three Awesome Free WiFi Scanners For The Mac" since iStumbler definitely belongs in there :-)

  3. Mike
    January 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Should have been "Three Awesome Free WiFi Scanners For The Mac" since iStumbler definitely belongs in there :-)

    • Aibek
      January 19, 2011 at 10:06 am

      thanks for the input

    • M.S. Smith
      January 19, 2011 at 5:25 pm

      Heck, I wanted it to be three, but I had trouble finding a third good WiFi scanner. I'm not sure why I never came across this one, it looks good.